It’s been interesting—as in, “may you live in interesting times.”
It seems long already. And although previous presidential election years have featured heated battles, this one seems even more heated.
Maybe I’m just not remembering correctly. But there’s an element abroad in the Republican land that seems more vicious and more sparked by anger than ever before. And that’s not an indictment of any particular candidate, although I think that at the moment Gingrich is riding that anger and Romney is more the recipient of it. But the anger preceded both of them.
For me as a blogger, this campaign represents a dilemma. Not the dilemma you might think I mean; I’m not torn about who to support. I’ll do what I always do there: observe, think, and call it as I see it. If I change my mind at some point—well then, that’s something that’s happened before, isn’t it?
No, the problem is that this campaign season has raised enough issues to keep me writing in all my free time and then some. I’ve got notes for about twenty in-depth, magazine-article-long pieces, each of which would take me about fifty hours to research and write with any sort of adequacy.
I won’t be getting to most of them, but they’re about larger issues than this campaign: the place of anger in American politics, the class war that’s fomenting and being fomented by both sides (a rather unique moment in history, I believe), attitudes towards capitalism and its morality, the popular notion that there are “elites” on either side who are the puppeteers in the process that selects the eventual nominee, “establishment” Republicans vs. supposedly non-establishment ones, how the term “flip-flop” is used as a pejorative and whether it means more than to change one’s mind, the extremes of right and left and what they want to happen in America (and how they resemble each other and how they differ).
That’s just a few. You can see my dilemma.
For me, the unease of the campaign season began as the first candidates I would have liked to have seen enter the race refused to do so. Oh, I thought, if that one says no, it’s okay because surely that one will say yes.
But it was not to be, and I think that’s at least part of what’s driving the general anger here: who among us still has a candidate in the race that he/she would have chosen at the outset? Or forget that dream: who among us has a candidate in the race that he/she still considers to be a good one?
Some of you may think there is; I don’t. I just don’t. And that’s not whining and wanting the moon; I’ve never felt so negative about a slate in all the years I’ve been observing these things (although I have to say that the 2008 Republicans were a close second).
I also think the extraordinary number of debates has been a big mistake. I’ve never liked debates (or even speeches, for that matter) to begin with. I think that debates give the press too much power to shape the event, and emphasize superficial characteristics and mostly lead to sound bites and ways to discredit perfectly reasonable candidates. Debates with a lot of characters (as these earlier debates featured) especially favor the short punchy and nearly meaningless statement.
The result that I sense from all of this (and apparently the editors of the WSJ agree with me, although they’re a bit nastier about it) is that the Republican candidate will lose. That was always a concern for me, although at first I thought Obama especially ripe for the picking. But the whole crew is so tarnished now that Obama will start looking a lot better to more and more of the American public—or at least, to enough of them for him to squeak out a win.
That thought troubles me greatly. Should I be philosophical and say, as the WSJ seems to be saying: then Republicans deserve it? Maybe, but I don’t think the country deserves it.
Those who champion this candidate or that one with more enthusiasm than I seem to think victory’s in the bag. That we could nominate anyone who can speak and breathe and the country will vote for him/her in a wild spasm of rage against Obama. I say no; won’t happen—just cause you’re that angry at Obama doesn’t mean most people are, nor does it mean that the majority of voters wouldn’t be even more repulsed by the Republican candidate du jour.